Flying can be a scary experience for the children flying alone, as well as their parents. To make the experience easier, most airlines provide a service for children aged 11 or younger, which provides a gate pass for guardians so they can watch their children until take-off, an introduction to the captain or at least authorized personnel, and a guarantee that they will be safe with the pre-arranged, designated pick-up person at arrival. All Unaccompanied Minor programs vary a little bit, either by fee, or by flight type on which unaccompanied minors are permitted to board, or even by ages of permitted unaccompanied minors (as a rule, no airline will allow any child less than five to board a flight unaccompanied). To find out which airline parents with jetsetting kids should choose, check out the list below, which shows how much each airline charges in fees for their unaccompanied minor programs. Keep in mind that the fees quoted are in addition to the airfare.
Photo by Frans Persoon/Flickr.
A child between the ages of 5 and 12 years who is not accompanied by a traveler at least 12 years old is how AirTran Airways defines unaccompanied minors. As a general rule, AirTran Airways does not accept unaccompanied minors on international flights and does not permit unaccompanied minors to connect on domestic flights. The fees for an unaccompanied minor adds up to $100 for a round trip.
Find more information at http://www.airtran.com/policies/general_information.aspx#um
Alaska Airlines offers unaccompanied minor service for children aged between 5 to 12, and optionally for those aged 13 to 17. Children under 7 years of age are only permitted on non-stop and direct flights; and children 8 and older are allowed on connecting flights for an added fee of $25. The unaccompanied minor fare is $25, and no unaccompanied minor is allowed on flights between 9 PM and 5 AM. The only flight that unaccompanied minors are not accepted on are flights to and from Sun Valley, Idaho between December 1st and April 1st.
Find more information at http://www.alaskaair.com/content/travel-info/policies/children-traveling-alone.aspx
Solo travelers between the ages of 5 and 11 must be booked through American Airlines’ Reservations department and the charge is $150 USD each way, plus tax. More specifically, children under 7 are not permitted to travel on connecting flights and those 8 - 11 have very specific connection requirements. Passengers between the ages of 12 and 15 may choose to participate in the program, if their parents wish. Check-in for unaccompanied minors also requires filling multiple forms, so it is important that the traveling party arrive at least two hours before departure.
Those considering flying their child unaccompanied have a few things to consider with Delta. Right off the bat, an unaccompanied minor is ticketed on an adult fare, plus a fee of $100 each way (however, only one fee will be charged for up to four children flying together). Children aged 5 to 7 may only travel unaccompanied on direct flights; those aged 8 to 14 may connect, and teenagers 15 to 17 don’t need to be enrolled in the program at all, unless their parents wish to participate.
Find more information at http://www.delta.com/content/www/en_US/traveling-with-us/special-travel-needs/children.html
Frontier considers children aged 5 to 14 to be unaccompanied minors when traveling without another companion at least 15 years old on a connecting flight. The service fee for this service is $100 each way and includes extra handling, a beverage and a snack for even multiple children under the same reservation.
Find more information at http://www.flyfrontier.com/customer-service/travel-support/family-pets/unaccompanied-minors
Children between the ages of 5 and 11 can fly unaccompanied with assistance within the state of Hawaii for a fee of $35 on all flights, including multi-stop and connecting flights; while a fee of $100 is enforced for kids traveling between the continental US and Hawaii, including non-stop, direct and connecting flights. Unless, of course, they are accompanied by someone over the age of 15. Those aged 12 and over can fly with the optional unaccompanied minor service for the same rates.
Find more information at http://www.hawaiianairlines.com/Services/Pages/children-traveling-alone.aspx
The Unaccompanied Minor program is only available for children between the ages of 5 and 14. JetBlue conveniently allows the reservation for unaccompanied minors to be booked and paid for (the fee is $100 per person each way) on their website, and guardians need only bring a copy of their completed form to the airport when they check in. Photo identification is required for both drop-off and pick-up, and unaccompanied minors are not permitted on connecting flights.
Find more information at http://help.jetblue.com/SRVS/CGI-BIN/webisapi.dll?New,Kb=askBlue,case=obj(675)
Children ages 5 to 11 traveling without a companion aged 12 or older are considered unaccompanied minors on Southwest Airlines, and thus may only travel on nonstop domestic flights. The charge for this service is $50 each way, making it $100 for a round trip.
Find more information at http://www.southwest.com/html/customer-service/family/unaccompanied-minors-pol.html
Spirit Airlines counts passengers between the ages of 5 and 14 as unaccompanied minors, who are only accepted on nonstop or direct domestic flights (this includes Puerto Rico and the U.S Virgin Islands). The fee of $100 each way per reservation includes a snack and beverage.
Find more information at http://www.spirit.com/OptionalServices.aspx#optional-others
United allows unaccompanied minors between the ages of 5 and 11 to fly direct on any domestic or international flight for a fee of $150 each way, which includes a snack and a beverage, as well as proper handling. Certain airports even have specific lounges where unaccompanied children can wait for a flight or to be picked up.
Find more information at http://www.united.com/web/en-US/content/travel/specialneeds/minors/default.aspx
Children between the ages of 5 to 11 may travel as unaccompanied minors on nonstop flights only. The reservation fee is $150 each way, except on flights between Charlotte and Brazil. Travelers between the ages of 12 and 17 may travel unaccompanied on nonstop and connecting flights without assistance; however, US Airways will inform their personnel that a young adult is traveling unaccompanied. If a flight is delayed or canceled, the airline will make alternate travel arrangements; if a flight is unavailable until the following day, then overnight accommodations at the airport with two station employees will be arranged.
Find more information at http://www.usairways.com/en-US/traveltools/specialneeds/unaccompaniedminors.html
Virgin America offers a scale for their unaccompanied minor charges based on the duration of their flight, so short-haul flights less than two hours are $75, domestic flights longer than that are $100, and international flights are $125. Unaccompanied minors (that is, any child between the ages of 5 to 14) are only allowed on on-stop flights.
Find more information at http://virginamerica.custhelp.com/app/answers/list/p/0/kw/unaccompanied+minors/search/1